January 7, 2015

11 Hot Chicago Restaurant Openings in 2015

Feast your eyes on 11 big openings to look forward to in 2015. Or as foodies would call it, the year of big names, big bowls of ramen and big fruity rum cocktails.

1. Rick Bayless Mystery Concept


It's the empire that tortas built. Rick Bayless has become one of Chicago's most well-known exports, evidenced by the massive lines at Frontera's O'Hare outpost. TV spots and celeb status aside, Bayless restaurants (including Michelin-starred Topolobampo and Xoco) continue to prove themselves as timeless classics, and it only makes sense for him to hit the West Loop foodie scene, which has officially exploded. All he's divulged: “It's a completely new concept that you've never seen before” and “super rustic,” including a nanobrewery that could feature some still-under-development Bayless Beer (our name, not his). Opening's slated for late spring/early summer.

Address: 900 W Randolph St

2. Grant Achatz Mystery Concept

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It only makes sense for the superhero Achatz/Kokonas duo (Michelin favorites with Alinea) to plan their next trick next door to Next (get it?) and The Aviary. (It's the former home of Homaro Cantu's iNG.) They've already elevated Fulton Market so far from its meatpacking roots, and the area will soon benefit from an influx of Googlers when 1K Fulton is finally completed. What we know from Achatz's hints: It will be “rustic refined,” with à la carte options, loud music, close-quarters seating and more in-your-face flavors. One name being tossed around is Roister, but Grant's mum until closer to the opening, which could coincide with the James Beard Awards this May.

Address: 951 W Fulton Market

Check out the other top nine openings on our website.

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Creative Space: Not Just Knocking Down Walls

Companies are pining for open space and a “Google culture,” but they're realizing you can't just knock down all the walls and hope that will happen. That's why we're exploring the process, step by step, at Bisnow's Chicago Creative Office Summit, Jan. 28 at Willis Tower, beginning at 7am. Space doesn't drive culture, it's always the other way around, Chicago Creative Space founder Max Chopovsky, one of our speakers (and busy dad with a nine-month-old), tells us. You have to know what your employees want and value, designing a space that “feels like home.” That focus on “building a family” does wonders for retention (and happy employees brag about the space on social media), Max says.

Chicago Creative Space

Some of his predictions for 2015: homey furniture (vintage, frayed rugs, etc); tools to combat sitting, the new smoking (think standup desks and treadmills); and creative coffee shop-type spaces (from nooks at Rightpoint to a luxe coffee bar at ContextMedia to inside a shipping container at Digitas, pictured). The key is employee engagement, Max tells us. (Because it's more fun to have meetings in a speakeasy, like at Google, or on a fallen redwood tree in Groupon's Enchanted Forest.) You can even keep it simple: Sandbox Industries' office has a chalkboard with a fun question of the day, often buzzier than the water cooler. Max's favorite feature: Motorola's new themed micro-kitchens, ranging from ‘60s space race to a huge animated map of the "L." Bisnow's Chicago Creative Office Summit is on Jan. 28 at Willis Tower, beginning at 7am. Get your event tix here!

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Can Chicago Support 2,200 Hotel Rooms?

You could hotel room hop every night for six years and still not get through all of this year's new supply, Curbed reports. (Based on a Crain's figure.) But the pipeline's not slowing after Loews and Virgin. '16 and '17 openings will include Wanda Vista (pictured), the Viceroy, Conrad and Marriott Marquis at McCormick Place.

Financing's stayed in hotel developers' favor, especially with historic tax credits often an option in the CBD, but such a competitive landscape means due diligence and big contingencies are more important than ever. The upside to all this supply is it'll help with Choose Chicago's ambitious goal: 55 million visitors by 2020.

Studio Gang/bKL Architecture

O'Hare Industrial Making History

O'Hare industrial vacancy rates have fallen below 8% for the first time since 2001 thanks to demand from recent tenants like Power Solutions International and EA Logistics (whose leases total 350k SF, with landlord Hamilton Partners), GlobeSt.com reports. Part of the reason? It's so tough to find blocks of space over 200k SF.

While Chicago has the third largest US industrial market with 1.2B SF, we've gone a long time without rent growth, The Missner Group president Barry Missner told us late last year. Value was created through the capital markets, in spite of the state's failure to quickly romance e-commerce giants like Amazon. Will big tenant demand ramp up development?

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Tell Us

What restaurants did we leave off? Tell marissa.oberlander@bisnow.com where you're looking forward to noshing next.